- MICHELLE GROSSMAN
TALI NIZIC, CEO , CONTROLLERS ON CALL
"Persistence Is The Key To Success"
The job market these days is nothing like it used to be. Once upon a time, people would find a job close to home and stay there for decades, sometimes all the way to retirement.
The environment now is much different. Job stability is no longer a guarantee, no matter what level of education or training a person has. At the same time, businesses struggle to find the right qualified candidates through the available means.
Fortunately, Tali Nizic, the founder, president and CEO of niche recruitment firm Controllers On Call, devised a single system that brings both sides together. From their Toronto-based offices, Tali and her team of five have amassed a database of over 15,000 pre-screened accounting and finance professionals. With that wealth of information at their fingertips, they help companies of all types find the right candidates, easier and faster than ever before.
Ever since it opened in 2000, its success has skyrocketed, earning it the distinction of being a Profit-100 company, a designation only given to the 100 fastest-growing companies in Canada. Her team is persistent and gets successful results, no matter what challenges may seem to be in the way.
Interestingly enough, Controllers On Call only came into existence due to Tali's own experience as an immigrant looking to enter the Canadian job market in a time when discrimination was rife and acceptable.
First Steps in Canada
Tali first came to Canada in 1972, right after high school. Originally from Israel, her parents had wanted her to visit relatives in Montreal. She ended up enrolling in Concordia University and making Canada her home ever since.
After graduation, Tali lived in Montreal and began looking for her first job in accounting.
Despite her qualifications, Tali was finding it impossible to get hired.
"First, I was told I lacked Canadian experience," she recalls. "Then I had difficulties because of being Jewish and Israeli." Although friends suggested she hide her religious and cultural identity, it wasn't even an option to her. "I can't hide who I am."
The final straw came at a job interview, one for which she'd waited three weeks and drove over an hour to the office.
Here too, the interviewer repeated what Tali heard many times before: "You don't have enough Canadian experience."
Her response to the interviewer was bold: "Well, how do you expect me to get Canadian experience when I can't get Canadian experience?"
The calculated risk paid off. The interviewer told her to wait, left the room, and after a few minutes, came back with a different interviewer. The process started over from scratch and by the end, Tali was offered a position at her first company in Canada, A&G Fabrics.
She stayed in Montreal until Quebec passed Bill 101. It set French as the official language of the province, which consequently prompted many large companies in Montreal to relocate their offices to Toronto. It also caused Tali to relocate as well. "My option was to move to Toronto or move back home," she told My Business Magazine.
The Next Stage
Tali spent two decades working in accounting before starting the path that would lead to the formation of Controllers On Call.
Her role as a finance manager working with the director of finance for nonprofit organization Jewish Vocational Services, would prove to be a turning point. "It was very different going from industry to nonprofit," she says. "In industry, it was always go-go-go and always deadlines." At JVS, which connects businesses with job-seekers of all backgrounds and provides training, she discovered a love for working with people that even surpassed her love for crunching numbers.
After a while, it became clear that this was something she wanted to do full time. "I'd had enough with accounting," she says. "I wanted to go into training and development. I wanted to work with people."
After coming to this realization, she began researching how to enter the new field. In the meantime, she decided to find contractual work as an accountant. Here too, an interview would prove to be the catalyst for change.
Tali was at an interview for a job as an accounting contractor, and while waiting, a sign on the wall caught her eye. It read "Are you tired of accounting and looking for a change?" Her answer was a resounding yes.
At the end of the interview, Tali asked the interviewer to tell her more about the job mentioned on the sign. It turned out to be for Part-Time Controllers. "The rest is history," she says.
After spending a year and a half with them, she decided to learn a whole new skill set and began working for an IT recruiting agency. The company was a small, family-run business but provided much experience. From there, Tali was inspired to start an agency of her own that would mesh her financial background with the powerful recruiting skills she had already learned. So in 2000, Controllers On Call was born. Over the past two decades since, they've become veritable experts in pinpointing the right people for each job position.
Today, Controllers On Call is made up of five people. There are three business developers and two recruiters, one of whom is Tali's daughter, Michelle.
How It Works
The process begins when a client (usually a medium-to-large sized company) tells Controllers On Call they need a new employee for a position. The positions can range from short-term contractor positions of only a few days to full-time positions and can last for any duration of time. They can also do hiring for confidential positions that haven't been made public yet.
Next, Controllers On Call scours its database of over 15,000 job candidates who have already been pre-screened in house. Once a job order is received, Controllers On Call interviews each candidate for at least an hour, asking them a series of questions and learning about their work history. "We need to understand their skill set, experience level, personality, and even work style," she says. The team also verifies each candidate's references.
As a result, by the time a candidate is suggested to a company, there's a high chance that candidate will be a good fit or pretty close. For clients, this means less time spent on hiring and more time spent actually getting work done.
"When it comes to contract work, it's not possible to find someone without us," Tali points out. "They don't have the pool of candidates that we have, especially interviewed ones."
Furthermore, clients are still free to carry out their own search and can even choose to utilize Controllers On Call as a backup if they choose.
Controllers On Call is set apart from the rest because Tali has been through the journey herself and brings her firsthand insight, not to mention years of experience in all levels of business. Add in the firm's deep understanding and respect for each clients' unique hiring needs, and the secret to their success becomes clear.
The results have been phenomenal, with an 80% placement rate on an ongoing basis.
Over the years, Tali learned that her challenge in getting that first job in Canada is actually quite common, especially for immigrants. It can be incredibly disheartening, though. "They come here and feel really disappointed," she says. "They get down on themselves and get discouraged."
Her advice is clear: never give up and stay persistent. Persistence, Tali says, has been her key to success ever since the beginning.
"The fact that I'm a woman and became an entrepreneur shows that people should not stray from their own dreams and ambitions," she says.
Another key? "I don't get influenced by what other companies do," she says.
The workplace culture at Controllers On Call is based on mutual respect and this has not only led to great work but great ideas too. "Everyone brings perspectives and opinions," she says. "Everyone is heard. Good ideas get implemented."
"We have very strong values and I respect the people who work with me. They work with me, not for me."
Outside of Work
Tali and her husband Toni have been happily married for almost 40 years and together they have two children. After their son sadly passed away at a young age, Tali was compelled to give back to the community in a meaningful way. That led to her involvement with a non-profit called Reena, which provides a myriad of support and services to people with developmental disabilities and their families.
Most recently, she finished her term on Reena's board of directors, marking her 15th year with the organization and was acclaimed one of Reena's "Most Valuable Lay Leaders" for her outstanding contributions including, but not limited to several years of service.
In addition to volunteer work, she also enjoys the arts, classical music, stand-up comedy, and writing. Her musings on a variety of topics, ranging from employment, society, news, holidays, and everyday life, can be found on the Controllers On Call blog and LinkedIn page.
Pride In Her Journey
Today, as Controllers On Call approaches its 20th year, Tali feels most proud of her journey. It's one that has built her into the successful woman she is today, and for that there can only be gratitude. From starting off in a market filled with discrimination, Tali is the very embodiment of the Canadian dream and her company is one that's making life better for both businesses and job seekers alike.
Michelle Grossman has spent over a decade in field of news and media, covering everything from business to energy to pop culture and more. Her passion for writing comes from asking the big questions that get to the heart of every story.
Controllers On Call
8600 Keele St Unit #13
Vaughan, ON L4K 4H8